Friday, July 30, 2010

LLA Recap – A Whirlwind Weekend

Tridentine Community News (July 25, 2010):
After almost two years of planning, the Latin Liturgy Association National Convention [of July 16-18, 2010, in Detroit/Windsor] is finally over. It was one of the most memorable events ever to have happened on the local Latin Mass scene.

Friday’s bus tour was sold out. On Saturday, the hall at St. Joseph was filled with over 110 people, many more than we expected for the talks, which covered a variety of subjects. The Sunday Pontifical Mass had over 430 in attendance. Considering the modest advertising that was done for this conference, it is clear that interest in the Latin Mass, both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, is growing, locally and across North America.

The music programs at each of the liturgies were outstanding: Friday’s Vespers at Assumption-Windsor under the direction of Wassim Sarweh, Saturday’s Ordinary Form Latin Mass at St. Joseph under the direction of Michael Semaan, Saturday’s Vespers at St. Albertus under the direction of Dr. Steven Ball and Dr. David Saunders, Sunday’s Benediction led by Joe Balistreri, and, of course, Sunday’s Pontifical Mass under the direction of Wassim Sarweh. The latter featured the combined choirs of St. Josaphat and Assumption-Windsor, plus volunteer singers from our parishes and guest singers from Assumption Grotto and Ann Arbor’s St. Thomas the Apostle Church. We were also privileged to have Montreal soprano Melinda Enns join us with her “angel’s voice”, as one of our readers terms it.

Some of the English-speaking world’s most accomplished Latin Mass music directors attended the conference. One of them with conference-organizing experience was particularly complimentary. While some of us look up to Chicago with its 14 Extraordinary Form Mass sites, one attendee from Chicago told us that yes, they have quantity, but Detroit has the quality. Well, of course, isn’t Quality Job 1 around here?

CDs and DVDs of the talks and the Pontifical Mass will be available from Ferndale’s St. Michael’s Media; details to follow.

Looking Forward

We pray that three things develop from the LLA Convention: First, that those who were not yet familiar with the riches of the Church’s liturgical and musical traditions would be introduced to this vast treasury, motivated to learn more about it, and through it grow in their spiritual life.

Second, that those who may be interested in starting Latin Masses in their own parishes and dioceses might pick up some practical lessons from our region’s experience, and be motivated to embark on such projects with more confidence.

Third, that those already attending a Latin Mass might discover yet more riches available to them. The process of preparing for Vespers and the Pontifical Mass, for example, was a humbling and eye-opening experience that proved that there is always more to learn about the Church’s liturgy.

May God bless everyone who helped, who contributed towards, and who attended this conference. Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for July 25, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Dr. Kenneth Howell reinstated at U. of Illinois

Many of you will remember our post, "Catholic prof fired for giving Church teaching on homosexuality" (Musings, July 11, 2010) about our friend, Ken Howell, who was precipitously fired because of a complaint of "hate speech" leveled against his account of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Well, he's been re-instated. Sort of. At least it's a temporary victory for academic freedom.

Tribune reporter, Manya A. Brachear, "U. of I. reinstates Catholic instructor" (Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2010) writes:
An adjunct religion instructor barred from teaching by the University of Illinois after defending the Roman Catholic stance on homosexuality has been invited back to teach this fall.

Adjunct associate professor Kenneth Howell was reinstated on Thursday — a day after the deadline when his lawyers said they would sue the university for violating his academic freedom if administrators failed to reinstate him.

University officials also announced they would sign Howell's paychecks, ending an unconventional decades-long practice by which the church compensated whoever taught Catholic studies at the state university.

Jordan Lorence, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal consortium representing Howell, commended university officials for reconsidering their actions and reinstating the associate professor.

"The university has righted the wrong by letting Ken Howell back into the classroom," Lorence said. "They should never have removed him in the first place."

Howell, who has taught on the Urbana - Champaign campus since 2001, was removed last month after explaining during class why the church believes that homosexual behavior violates natural moral law. He elaborated later in an e-mail that lawyers say circulated around campus, prompting one student to call it "hate speech."

His subsequent removal generated outcry from alumni and students, including a "Save Dr. Ken" Facebook page. On Thursday, the page was filled with posts celebrating victory.

But the reinstatement is temporary. It does not affect an ongoing faculty review, which has been investigating whether Howell's immediate removal violated his academic freedom or right to due process.

Another faculty committee appointed to examine the circumstances of Howell's compensation concluded that the university's relationship with St. John's Catholic Newman Center, the Catholic ministry on campus, was improper.

Though Howell taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought in university classrooms, he served on the payroll of the Newman Center funded by the Diocese of Peoria — an agreement that remained in place despite scholars' objections when a religious studies program was established in 1971.

Howell now will earn $10,000 from the university for teaching Introduction to Catholicism in the religious studies department this fall.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pope John XXIII on fitting liturgical language

"The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular."

Blessed John XXIII, Veterum Sapientia, 1962

[Hat tip to New Theological Movement]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Does skimming short texts on the internet make us stupid?

Patrick Kingsley, "The art of slow reading" (The Guardian, July 15, 2010) -- [Just skim this ... and LOOK: I've even done your preliminary skimming FOR YOU!!!]:
If you're reading this article in print, chances are you'll only get through half of what I've written. And if you're reading this online, you might not even finish a fifth. At least, those are the two verdicts from a pair of recent research projects – respectively, the Poynter Institute's Eyetrack survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen – which both suggest that many of us no longer have the concentration to read articles through to their conclusion.

The problem doesn't just stop there: academics report that we are becoming less attentive book-readers, too....

So are we getting stupider? Is that what this is about? Sort of. ... we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts.

Which all means that although, because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other.....

Still reading? You're probably in a dwindling minority. But no matter: a literary revolution is at hand. First we had slow food, then slow travel. Now, those campaigns are joined by a slow-reading movement – a disparate bunch of academics and intellectuals who want us to take our time while reading, and re-reading. They ask us to switch off our computers every so often and rediscover both the joy of personal engagement with physical texts, and the ability to process them fully.
[Hat tip to C.G.-Z.]

Liberal media wants to "crack down" on bloggers

In a gratuitous exhibition of a most illiberal, repressive attitude, "CNN Host Calls for Crackdown on 'Bloggers' in Wake of Sherrod Incident: 'Something’s Going to Have to be Done Legally'" (News Busters, July 23, 2010). The pretext is variable, but the sentiment is the same: shut down those reactionary right-wing media outlets (talk show hosts, bloggers, etc.). The left can't seem to prevail in the free marketplace of ideas, so it wants to grab the the levers of power and do something "legal" to leverage its will. Recall what J.J. Rousseau said of those who dissent from the will of those in power: "They must be compelled to be free." The closing of the American mind redivivus.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Von Hildebrand criticizes West's cult of the body

Alice von Hildebrant provides substantial food for thought and fuel for the fire in her recent essay, "Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast:Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex" (CNA, July 21, 2010) [archived here].

[Hat tip to D.]

Prayer request

Please pray for Donna, who recently wrote requesting prayer for a difficult time in her life.

God bless,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Surgeon Gen. Koop: Kagan misled congress

Former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, MD, issued a strongly-worded statement today condemning as "unethical, and disgraceful" misrepresentations by Supreme Court Nominee Elana Kagan, not only of science but of her role, in front of elected representatives in the US Senate. In part, Koop's statement reads:
The problem for me, as a physician, is that she was willing to replace a medical statement with a political statement that was not supported by any existing medical data. During the partial-birth abortion debate in the 1990s, medical evidence was of paramount importance.

Ms. Kagan's amendment to the ACOG Policy Statement--that partial-birth abortion "may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman"--had no basis in published medical studies or data. No published medical data supported her amendment in 1997, and none supports it today.

... She misrepresented not only the science but also misrepresented her role in front of your elected representatives in the United States Senate.

This is unethical, and it is disgraceful, especially for one who would be tasked with being a measured and fair-minded judge.

... I ask that Senators and the American people give this report their most serious consideration. I urge the Senate to reject the politization of medical science and vote no on the Kagan nomination.

Four priests' exorcism at abortuary sees results

"God’s Power Working Through His Priests" (Pro-Life Corner, July 16, 2010):
Rockford, IL July 16, 2010 - Before the Northern Illinois Women's Center opened on Friday morning to end the lives of children in the womb,four Catholic Priests firmly stationed themselves at all four corners around the abortion mill and began praying the powerful prayers of the Church found in Fr. Thomas Euteneuer's book Exorcism and the Church Militant.

... Almost immediately upon the Priests' beginning their prayers in unison, the landlord of the abortion business came out of the building like a shot.
He wandered back and forth around the parking lot. Then he roamed the sidewalks, calling the Priests and pro-lifers names.

... Then it began. One mother who was bitterly weeping when she entered the mill parking lot had a change of heart and left with her baby alive and well. When a sidewalk counselor showed her a picture of a child in the womb about her baby's age, her tears turned to joy.

Another mother was picked up by a friend before the abortionist arrived, and the young woman driver shouted out to all the pro-lifers,
"She didn't do it!" The young mother was offered a baby shower.
[Hat tip to]

Monday, July 19, 2010

Latin Liturgy Association in Detroit

Tridentine Community News (July 18, 2010). The following is from the column in the St. Josephat Church bulletin for the occasion of yesterday's Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Chicago Auxillary Bishop Perry. The church was filled with hundreds of visitors.
We wish to extend a special welcome to those who are attending the Latin Liturgy Association National Convention this weekend, especially those visiting our churches for the first time. There is close cooperation between St. Josaphat Church, its cluster partners St. Joseph and Sweetest Heart of Mary, nearby St. Albertus, and Windsor’s Assumption Church. Latin Liturgy has a prominent role at all five of these churches, all of which are beautiful, historically intact edifices ideally suited for the traditional celebration of Holy Mass.

The Extraordinary “Tridentine” Form of Holy Mass is offered every Sunday at 9:30 AM and Monday at 7:00 PM at St. Josaphat Church; every Sunday at 2:00 PM and Tuesday at 7:00 PM at Windsor’s Assumption Church; and on Fourth Sundays at Noon at St. Joseph Church. St. Albertus offers the Extraordinary Form four times per year at Noon, with the next Masses scheduled for August 29 and November 14. Sweetest Heart of Mary offers the Extraordinary Form of Mass on special occasions and feast days. Confessions in the Extraordinary Form are heard at Assumption-Windsor every Sunday at 1:30 PM. Weddings, Baptisms, and funerals in the Extraordinary Form are available.

The Ordinary “Novus Ordo” Form of Holy Mass is offered in Latin at St. Joseph Church all Sundays except the fourth at 10:30 AM. Assumption-Windsor also offers an English Mass accompanied by chant and polyphonic Latin compositions every Sunday at 11:00 AM.

We invite you to read the complete schedule of Masses and special events posted at and and hope you will be able to join us again as often as time permits.

Jason Grossi Appointed Lead Architect
for Assumption Church Restoration

On May 25, 2010, the board of the Assumption Heritage Trust Foundation selected Jason Grossi as lead architect for the restoration of Windsor’s Our Lady of the Assumption Church. The AHTF is the entity established by the Diocese of London, Ontario to oversee the fundraising for and administration of the $9,800,000 restoration project of this historic church.

The project is mostly a structural one, to restore the decaying exterior walls. It will also encompass a redesign of the campus to make better use of the spacious grounds for garden and parking areas. The sacristy, which is structurally unsound and not historically significant, will be replaced with a new one with more convenient storage for the Latin Mass supplies on the ground floor. A new and larger social hall will also be built.

Jason and his family are active members of Assumption’s Tridentine Mass Community. Many of our readers already know of Jason’s talent via his design of the Latin Liturgy Association Convention brochure.

Jason’s firm, Studio g+G, has offices in Windsor and in Moscow, Russia. His team has undertaken projects ranging from an art institute, to a high-rise hotel, to a 1,200,000 square foot multifunction retail, office, and condominium tower development near the Kremlin. His own office building in Windsor is an historic restoration of the former Walkerville electrical station.

Jason has taught architecture at Lawrence Technological University and is also an accomplished composer and musician. His works for ensemble and orchestra have been played several times on CBC Radio, and he has put his skill on the trumpet to use accompanying our closing hymns at Assumption on occasion.

We congratulate Jason and thank the Assumption Heritage Trust Foundation board for their vote of confidence in someone not only with the appropriate talent and experience, but also with a vested interest in preserving the various historic elements of the church so essential to the Traditional Latin Mass.

Vocations News: Joe Tuskiewicz

We are pleased to announce that familiar face Joe Tuskiewicz has been accepted as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit. Joe recently retired from a career as a globe-trotting advertising executive and will be attending the “second-career vocation” Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, near Boston.

Joe is active on numerous fronts on the local Catholic scene: He is one of the lead altar servers for the Extraordinary Form Masses at St. Josaphat, Assumption-Windsor, St. Joseph, and St. Albertus; a lector for the Saturday afternoon Mass at Old St. Mary’s in Detroit; and a catechism instructor and occasional altar server at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Church in Sterling Heights. Joe has also taught catechism at other parishes in metro Detroit through the years and has mentored numerous individuals.

Joe’s quiet dedication to his faith has been an inspiration to those around him. His strong prayer life and attention to detail in his tasks leave us no doubt that he will make an excellent priest.

Joe will be departing for the seminary in late August. God willing, he may be able to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass for us one day. Please pray for him and for all of our future priests.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for July 18, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

P.S. Joe Tuskiewicz, by the way, has all the makings of a terrific priest. Several of my classes at Sacred Heart Major Seminary were graced by his presence last school year, and many of the seminarians, as well as I, have come to know and appreciate him for his quiet intelligence, good sense, good humor, and disciplined practice of his faith in all things Catholic. God Speed, Joe!

Is the Holy Father still celebrating the old Mass?

It's a matter of record, of course, that he publicly did so while he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Rumors that Benedict XVI says the old Mass in his own chapel have been circulating for a long time, as Damian Thompson notes (, July 17, 2010). In fact, "just last week," writes Thompson, "a senior Westminster priest with strong links to the Vatican told me he had reason to believe them."

Now, however, the head of the Society of St Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has gone public with the statement that Pope Benedict XVI continues to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in private. He also claimed that an unnamed Italian bishop had threatened to resign if the Pope ever celebrated the traditional Latin Mass in public.

Fr. Z[uhlsdorf] comments that the fellow who sent him a piece with additional information "added the mordant comment that if any Italian bishop were to resign because the Pope said the traditional form of Holy Mass, that would be reason enough for him to do it."

According to Fellay, writes Thompson, "the Holy Father’s secretary, Mgr Georg Gänswein, also uses the 1962 Missal; Father Z suggests that the Pope may sometimes serve Mass for him (in the older form, he implies, though this isn’t clear)."

Thompson also remarks, "I’ve deliberately stuck the word 'Tridentine' in the headline to this post ["Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Tridentine Mass privately ..."] because, although it’s been largely superseded by 'Extraordinary Form', I want to remind all those English liberals who are hastily reinventing themselves as fans of the Holy Father that he profoundly loves the Mass they spent decades sneering at – and indeed celebrated it publicly when he was head of the CDF."

In Fr. Z's piece, Fellay claims that there are a great number of Prelates in the Curia who are well-disposed to his Fraternity, and that some 20 old Masses are celebrated in St. Peter's daily (though Fr. Z doubts there are quite that many).

On the other hand, one reads in Fr. Z's piece:
The Bishop also said that part of the Roman Curia and the neoconsevative led State-Secretariat have torpedoed traditional initiatives of the Pope.

As an example the Bishop described the traditionally restored Trappist Abbey of Mariawald in the German Alps.

The Pope had already permitted them to return to the old discipline and liturgy. Actually the secretary of State has intentionally set the Decree aside. [and Fr. Z comments: "I believe that."]
[Hat tip to NOR NEWS LINK]

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pontifical High Mass

Chicago Auxillary Bishop Perry offered the Pontifical High Mass at the Faldstool at St. Josaphat at 9:30 this morning. What an event! The church felt packed. The Mass was magnificent, and the music beyond words, with the combined choirs of Assumption/Windsor and St. Josaphat in the choir loft with Wassim Sarweh directing. We also has the "angel's voice" flown in from Montreal, as we often do for special occasions. Bishop Perry's homily on the parable of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-8) was measured, devoid of lame jokes, and direct in its application. The bishop was served by Deacon and Subdeacon along with two assisting priests, one as Master of Ceremonies, as well as our regular team of servers. It was a fitting and glorious conclusion to the three-day Latin Liturgy Association's convention in Detroit, with registrants from all over the country, including three I counted from San Francisco. Deo gratias.

More on the specific talks given at the convention in due course.

Buyer's remorse: cleanse your life

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Friday, July 16, 2010

The liturgical crisis of 2050

As I was enjoying the Latin Liturgy Association's tour of Detroit churches today, on the first day of the LLA convention, I'm afraid my naughty imagination got the best of me. I imagined what things might be like with the liturgical forms of the Roman Rite in, say, 2050, if the tables were turned a bit.

Imagine that the Novus Order as presently known was utterly suppressed by a future pope, by means of a thoroughgoing "Reform of the Reform." Imagine the partisans of that "old Mass" of 1969 feeling completely marginalized by the New Liturgical Movement sweeping the Church. Yet imagine the partisans of the "old" Novus Ordo forming a break-away seminary in southern California, where a renegade bishop illicitly ordains four pasley-vested priests as new bishops to preserve the ecclesiastical gains of the "Revolution" represented by the "Spirit of Vatican II."

A future pope issues an indult in 2044 authorizing the celebration of the 1969 liturgy with the approval of the local bishop, "for those attached to the earlier forms of worship" from the 20th century. Yet the local bishops continue to drag their heels, because of resistance to the generally unpopular free-wheeling guitar Masses with "gathering hymns" composed by the likes of Haugen and Haas; and the bishops fear widespread reactionary popular backlash in the parishes and presbyterate.

Four years later, as a result of persistent petitioning and agitation on the part of guitar and bongo Mass enthusiasts, the pope expands his earlier permission in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia dei adflicta II (2048): "By virtue of my Apostolic Authority I decree ... (that) a wide and generous application" be given to previous directives. Things remain virtually unchanged, however, and bishops generally ignore the Vatican directive, complaining about the old "gray-hairs" still clinging to the liturgical forms of the 1970s.

Finally in 2050, to the joy of Marty Haugen fans and the consternation of chancery offices around the world, the pope issues a Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum II, allowing every priest in the Roman Rite to offer the 1969 liturgy in the vernacular, vested in polyester, with guitar accompaniment and as many Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion as they wish, provided their number does not exceed that of the congregation present.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home again!

Thank you, Lord, for traveling mercies; and thanks to you, my friends, for your prayers. It's good to be home in Michigan.

Pray also for my colleague, Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, who will be leaving for Russia with his wife on Saturday for a week or so.

Walker Percy, on Bourbon, neat

From Christopher's Against the Grain (July 14, 2010):
Not only should connoisseurs of bourbon not read this article, neither should persons preoccupied with the perils of alcoholism, cirrhosis, esophageal hemorrhage, cancer of the palate, and so forth—all real enough dangers. I, too, deplore these afflictions. But, as between these evils and the aesthetic of bourbon drinking, that is, the use of bourbon to warm the heart, to reduce the anomie of the late twentieth century, to cure the cold phlegm of Wednesday afternoons, I choose the aesthetic. What, after all, is the use of not having cancer, cirrhosis, and such, if a man comes home from work every day at five-thirty to the exurbs of Montclair or Memphis and there is the grass growing and the little family looking not quite at him but just past the side of his head, and there's Cronkite on the tube and the smell of pot roast in the living room, and inside the house and outside in the pretty exurb has settled the noxious particles and the sadness of the old dying Western world, and him thinking: "Jesus, is this it? Listening to Cronkite and the grass growing?"

If I should appear to be suggesting that such a man proceed as quickly as possible to anesthetize his cerebral cortex by ingesting ethyl alcohol, the point is being missed. Or part of the point. The joy of bourbon drinking is not the pharmacological effect of the C2H5OH on the cortex but rather the instant of the whiskey being knocked back and the little explosion of Kentucky U.S.A. sunshine in the cavity of the nasopharynx and the hot bosky bite of Tennessee summertime—aesthetic considerations to which the effect of the alcohol is, if not dispensable, at least secondary.

Excerpt: "Bourbon, Neat", by Walker Percy. Claremont Review of Books Fall 2001.
[Hat tip to C.B.]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

EF Mass repressed in Brazilian community

"Comunicado – Supressão de Missa na Forma Extraordinária do Rito Romano em Recife" (Deus lo Vult, July 11, 2010):
É com extremo pesar que comunico que, a partir de hoje, não haverá mais a celebração da Missa na Forma Extraordinária do Rito Romano na paróquia da Imbiribeira, às onze horas do domingo, como vinha acontecendo até então....
[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli.]

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Let's bump this up"

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, "Card. Heenan from across the decades" (WDTPRS, July 12, 2010), writes:
Let’s bump this up:

A friend told me about this quote. So, I looked it up!
Cardinal Heenan addressed the Synod the day after the experimental Mass had been presented and said he did not know the names of those who had proposed the new Mass but it was clear to him that few of them had ever been parish priests.

"At home," he said, "it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children."

Romano Amerio's Zibaldone: dealing with Vatican II

Sandro Magister, "The Defenders of Tradition Want the Infallible Church Back" (, July 12, 2010): "They are pleading with the pope to condemn "ex cathedra" the errors of Vatican Council II. A new book by Romano Amerio is giving new force to their request. But Benedict XVI doesn't agree ..."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Catholic prof fired for giving Church teaching on homosexuality

Our good friend and fellow Catholic convert, Dr. Kenneth Howell, who worked for St. John's Catholic Newman Center as Director of the Institute of Catholic Thought, and taught Introduction to Catholicisim and Modern Catholic Thought at the University of Illinois, Urbana, has been fired for relating the Catholic teaching on homosexuality in his class:Pray for the good man. Howell won awards for excellence in teaching at the University of Illinois over the past decade. I cannot imagine a more balanced and sensitive presentation of Catholic and alternative ethical interpretations to a pluralistic student body than his; and if that's enough to get a professor (1) fired by the university, and (2) fired by the Newman Center for which he worked, then indeed, in good faith, I do not know what hope there is for reasoned dialogue within secular academe. The situation seems hopeless.

On the other side, the student responsible for tarring Howell's teaching with the libelous term "hate speech" while remaining safely under cover of anonymity, the university administration who buckled at the first whiff of what could possibly be spun by the media as faculty "homophobism," and the administration of the Newman Center and chancery responsible for letting Howell go rather than standing behind him, all reveal the stalwart spine of jellyfish.

Chesterton was right: our world today is ron amok with wild and wasted virtues, like "humility," settled, not on the organ of ambition, but on the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be: hence people are so humble they are incapable of being certain of anything being true anymore. The world is also awash and overflowing with virtues of which we could use less, like oliaginous "sensitivity," "compassion," and "niceness"; while it suffers an acute shortage of adamantine virtues, like truth, courage, justice, fidelity, and self-control. Howell represents the latter. He should be defended. If this were a just country, he would never have been fired. In a just country, men are fired for transgressions and vices, like betrayal, theft, sloth, and faleshood, not for truthfulness, discipline, and fidelity.

[Hat tip to comment by Anon. and Jordanes for clarifications.]

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Pontifical Solemn Mass

Tridentine Community News (July 11, 2010):
In anticipation of next Sunday’s Pontifical Solemn Mass at 9:30 AM at St. Josaphat Church, it is appropriate to discuss the various forms of Pontifical Mass that a bishop may celebrate.

Next Sunday’s Mass will be a “Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Faldstool”. This is the most solemn form of Extraordinary Form Mass that a bishop may celebrate if he is not the Ordinary (chief bishop) of a diocese, or if he is an Ordinary but is not in his own diocese. Bishop Joseph Perry is an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, thus this is the appropriate form for him to use while visiting here.

A faldstool is a bench or small chair on which the bishop sits. It is distinct from a throne, a more formal, large chair. A “Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Throne” is the form of Holy Mass that an Ordinary celebrates in his own diocese, or that a bishop with the permission of the local Ordinary can celebrate outside his own diocese. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, was given permission to celebrate a Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Throne at the recently held Extraordinary Form Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. You may have heard the term “pontificate” casually used to refer to someone expounding on a topic. The expression derives from the description of a bishop preaching, e.g. “he pontificated from the throne”.

In both of the above two forms of Mass, the bishop is assisted by an Assistant Priest in cope, a Deacon and Subdeacon, and a Master of Ceremonies who must be in major orders. A second MC oversees the altar servers. A Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Throne gets more complicated, with Assistant Deacons and various additional servers.

The bishop uses two kinds of mitres (tall hats) at various points in the Mass, a Golden Mitre and a Precious Mitre. The latter is so named because it is encrusted with precious stones. Depending on his preferences, the bishop may also wear special gloves, Episcopal shoes, and buskins (elaborate socks). It is especially appropriate to use a crosier (the shepherd’s staff) in his own diocese. All of these represent his authority.

The bishop vests before the altar before Mass, and unvests afterwards, reciting prayers from the Pontifical, a book containing the Ordinary (unchanging prayers) of the Mass. The Pontifical is then put on the altar, in place of the central altar card. The regular Altar Missal is only used for the Propers, or changing prayers, of the Mass. A bugia, or candle, is held near the books he reads.

Readers of this column may be familiar with a “Pontifical Low Mass”, the form of Holy Mass that Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing prefers to celebrate. The bishop has at his side two assistants, one of whom must be in major orders. He vests and unvests before the altar, before and after Mass. He gives the Pontifical Blessing at the end of Mass. Otherwise, it largely follows the same structure as a conventional Low Mass or Missa Cantata.

All of these ceremonials, and all of these elaborate vestments, serve to point out that the bishop is a shepherd and teacher of the faithful. As a successor of the Apostles, a bishop is charged with grave responsibility over souls. The reverences given to the bishop in these solemn Masses are symbolic of the reverence due our Lord. We do not reverence the man; we reverence the office, and in turn, the accountability that the office owes to God.

Special Liturgies Next Weekend Open to All

All of our readers are invited to attend the special liturgies planned for the Latin Liturgy Association Convention, whether or not you are registered for the conference. In addition to the Pontifical Solemn Mass on Sunday, July 18 at 9:30 AM at St. Josaphat Church, these include:

On Friday, July 16 at 5:15 PM: Vespers and Benediction in the Extraordinary Form will be held at Windsor’s Our Lady of the Assumption Church. The celebrant will be Fr. Peter Hrytsyk. A four-voice male choir will chant this special liturgy from Assumption’s historic choir stalls which were originally built for the singing of the Divine Office. Assumption’s original historic monstrance dating from the late 1800s will be used for Benediction.

On Saturday, July 17 at 8:30 AM: A Latin Mass according to the Ordinary Form will be held at Detroit’s St. Joseph Church. The St. Joseph Capella will provide music for this Mass. The celebrant will be Fr. Scott Haynes of Chicago’s St. John Cantius Church. Fr. Haynes is co-creator of the artistically beautiful web sites and He has also provided valuable consulting assistance to Mr. Michel Ozorak as Michel has developed his series of Gregorian Chant Sheets for celebrants of the Tridentine Mass.

On Saturday, July 17 at 4:45 PM: Vespers and Benediction in the Extraordinary Form will be held at Detroit’s St. Albertus Church. The celebrant will be Fr. Kenneth Myers of Pittsburgh’s St. Boniface Church. A three-voice male choir will chant this service from the sanctuary.

On Sunday, July 18 at 2:15 PM: The Holy Rosary will be recited in Latin and Benediction will be offered at Detroit’s Sweetest Heart of Mary Church. The celebrant will be new cluster pastor Fr. Paul Czarnota.

Registration Still Open

Some seats remain on the Bus Tour of Historic Churches. Registration for the Saturday and Sunday events is still open. Registration at the door is possible for all three days, however the Bus Tour is limited to the number of seats on the bus.

One caveat: The St. Josaphat Parish Office must have received payment by Wednesday, July 14, or else you will be required to pay again at the door. Should [you] have sent payment to the office and must pay again at the door, your mailed-in payment will be refunded to you after it has been received.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for July 11, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

  • A flyer including the schedule of the Latin Liturgy Convention this weekend, with information about the Bus Tour, photos of the host churches, directions, and hotel information may be found here, courtesy of Jason Grossi: (Online PDF link)
  • A online registration form with various incentive discounts for clergy, seminarians, and LLA members, may be found here: (Online PDF link)

Leave of absence from Blogsville

I will be out-of-state with family for the next week or so, visiting relatives in the American heartlands (hinterlands or fly-over country, if you are a blue state coast hugger). I may post a thing or two next week, but probably not much. As you feel led, please remember us in your prayers particularly for safety during our travels. God bless.

"Dignity House": Jack Kevorkian business cards, anyone?

Rita Marker's International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide newsletter of July 6, 2010 asks the reader to imagine the following scenario:
A psychiatrist has announced that he's setting up a clinic in a quiet suburb. That clinic will be called the "Dignity House." It's a place where people can go to kill themselves under the State's Death with Dignity law.

Bluntly stated, it is an assisted-suicide clinic.

The clinic will be "full service" where you can schedule the day of your death and -- for an extra fee -- arrange for pre-death amenities. These extras include catering for a special last meal. Fresh garden flowers are also available. If you want music, that can be arranged. There's even the option of a makeup specialist so you'll look better if you select the option of an "end-of-life camera" to videotape your death.

A person can also request that the clinic's psychiatrist-owner be present at the time of death -- for an extra fee, of course. And, yes, you can bring friends, family and your pets if you'd like them to be present at your death. Total cost for the "package deal" is $5,000.
Marker concedes that some readers may find this unbelievable, saying that's a natural reaction; but she insists it's true. She writes: "In late June, Portland Oregon psychiatrist, Stuart Weisberg, MD, announced the planned opening of his 'Dignity House.' All of the details described above are from his web site and news articles about his endeavor."

See Thaddeus Pope's post, "Weisberg's Death with Dignity House" (Medical Futility Blog, June 27, 2010).

In a move toward damage control for Oregon's image, the state medical board issued an emergency suspension of Weisberg's medical license, not because of problems with the concept, but because of prior drug prescribing irregularities. Weisberg has vowed to get that suspension lifted, and, indeed, the winds of history clearly seem to be pointing his way.

Jack Kevorkian business cards, anybody?

Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One,Waugh's vicious little nightmare of a satire on the L.A. funeral industry, where Whispering Glades provides deluxe service to deceased stars and their families, and the Happier Hunting Ground does the same for dead pets. (Staffers at Whispering Glades refer to corpses, of course, as "Loved Ones."

AZ immigration law vote

MSNBC is conducting an opinion poll asking readers whether Arizona's immigration law is a good idea.

As of 5:20pm EST today, the polling stands as follows: Out of 2,643,091 votes, 2,531,409 votes (95.9%) in favor; 108,668 votes (4.1%) opposed.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

What Is a Church Supposed to Look Like?

by Peter A. Kwasniewski

What is a Catholic church supposed to look like? It can never hurt to start with the obvious: it’s called a church. That means it’s supposed to represent to us and remind us of the Church (with a capital C). Now, what do we say in our Profession of Faith about the Church? We identify her four “notes” or essential characteristics when we say that she is “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” Almost in the same breath, we then link the Church to her life-giving Sacraments and the ultimate goal to which our membership in her carries us: “we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” An entire understanding of church architecture is sketched out in these few words of the Creed.

The Four Notes of Church Architecture

“One.” We are talking about one and the same Church across all the ages. No matter how different the times, nations, races, languages, customs, and cultures, there is still one and only one Church of Christ, which has its concrete, singular, historical existence in the Catholic Church founded on the rock of Saint Peter.1 So the church building and its furnishings ought to convey a sense of something one, visibly and tangibly one, that is greater than all of our differences. We concretely express this mystery by an architecture that remains in continuity with ecclesiastical Tradition. In spite of all differences of architectural style—Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical—there have always been what you might call “artistic constants.”2 These constants have been largely lost in the past forty years, so it is particularly urgent to recover them if we are going to feel that we belong to a Church truly one across time and space. A good building is good catechesis on the identity and unicity of the Church.

“Apostolic.” I jump ahead to this note of the Church because it clarifies that the unity or oneness just spoken of consists in belonging to the Church founded by Christ on the Apostles, especially on Peter, the Rock. Our Lord Jesus gave to the Apostles the Deposit of Faith, what we call Apostolic Tradition. This is the fundamental content of the Faith, passed down from Bishop to Bishop across all centuries in their public ministry of preaching and teaching. This is why we are, or ought to be, especially attentive to the teaching and example of the Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter and the Head of the Apostolic College. The church building, for its part, passes down that same Tradition in artistic form, in a kind of silent visual preaching.

“Holy.” This characteristic is arguably the most important of all when it comes to architecture. A church should represent and reflect and remind us of the holiness of God, the holiness to which we have been called and in which we share. Hence, verticality—the upward thrust of architectural and decorative elements—is crucial in a sanctuary. When we enter a well-designed church, our mind, our feelings, are immediately drawn upwards to God, the Holy One of Israel; to the Divine, the Transcendent, the Infinite. We are helped to leave behind for a short time the mundane and profane world in which we sometimes feel trapped; we are reminded that our Christian vocation stretches beyond the workaday world, beyond even the great good of loving our neighbor through spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Our home, our abiding city, our goal as rational creatures and members of Christ’s Mystical Body, is finally God alone, joined to His beatitude, resting in His eternal joy. The church building and especially the sanctuary serve as witnesses of that eternal promise, hope, joy, and calling. We should always feel as if we are crossing into another world when we enter a Catholic church: “the life of the world to come, Amen.”

The Creed connects the four notes of the Church with the profession of “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” as if to say: the very purpose of the Church militant is to go out and sanctify men, bringing them into the Kingdom of God by baptism and keeping them healthy in that kingdom through the seven Sacraments: “holy things for the holy,” as the Byzantine liturgy says of the Eucharist. If we lapse from holiness, the Church our Mother has the merciful remedy of the sacrament of Penance to restore us to communion with God. Baptism and the Eucharist, the gateway of the Sacraments and their summit, proclaim to us the essential “business” for which a church building is consecrated, set apart from all other buildings: it is where holy rites and mysteries are performed. Accordingly, a church should be, in its overall appearance and in its details, a fitting home to such rites and mysteries. It itself should be “sacramental”—a visible, unambiguous, powerful sign of the rich mercies of God, poured out for us in the seven Sacraments of the New Law. It should be as much as possible a glorious place, a place resplendent with an aura of sacredness, dignity, solemnity, majesty. That is why, from the earliest records of church architecture and furnishings, we find such a prominent place allotted to gold and silver, precious stones, mosaics, and elegant woodwork, joined later on by statuary, tapestries, and stained glass.

“Catholic.” This term means “universal,” that is, all over the world, all ages, all peoples. Taken in that sense we are brought back to our earlier points about “one” and “apostolic.” But there is more. Catholic means not idiosyncratic, privatized, closed off, content with one’s own local mediocrity. Being Catholic drives us to excellence in communion with all the great Saints, Priests, Bishops, Popes, and laity of all ages prior to ours and in all ages to come; indeed it goes beyond history into the Church suffering in Purgatory and the Church triumphant in Heaven. Reflecting as well as it can that vast Communion of Saints to which we belong by the privilege of our baptism, church architecture should therefore never be characterized primarily, much less exclusively, by what is local, regional, or temporary in taste, but should partake of a universality and nobility that all Catholics would be able to recognize and rejoice in as their own. We are beckoned to think beyond ourselves and our limitations, aspiring to the best that our Tradition has to offer us. This doesn’t mean that optimally every church ought to replicate Saint Peter’s Basilica, much less that any single historical style can be identified with the Faith. It does mean, however, that phenomena like shoddy workmanship, ho-hum blandness, low-key primitivism, or chilly modernism can never have a legitimate place in the art forms employed by the Church to express her catholicity.

Resurrection and Eternal Life

“We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” Through His Church, Jesus Christ preaches ineffable mysteries that transcend the grasp of reason. We should feel overwhelmed by the mystery of our Faith; it’s not a warm cozy little pet on a leash but an awesome “weight of glory” (cf. 2 Cor 4:17) that summons our whole being into a new reality: the reality of the Divine, of Eternity, of Infinity. The church building should pull its weight, so to speak, in proclaiming the awesomeness, the profundity, the beyondness of the mysteries of Faith, so that we may be continually challenged by the sovereign reality of God confronting our narrow, horizontal, worldly thoughts. A good church is a wordless preacher, a patient teacher, an imposing yet gentle guide. According to our artistic heritage, are there definite ways in which this proclamation is to be achieved? Absolutely yes.

The first principle of good church design is verticality. This will apply above all to that Holy of Holies within the church, the sanctuary. When you enter a church, your bodily eye should be captured by the vertical elements in the sanctuary and drawn upwards by them, which in turn stirs the heart to thoughts of the divine. The verticality which is such an emphatic aspect of all traditional Western church architecture bespeaks the holiness and transcendence of God as well as the sacredness of what goes on in the sanctuary. Belonging to this verticality are also elements that cast into relief, almost like italics or boldface type on a page of text, special parts of the church, for example a baldachin or tester over the high altar and an elevated tabernacle with a veil. Such features act as magnets to draw the attention to where it belongs: the altar of sacrifice; the crucifix that puts before us the price of our redemption; the Most Holy Eucharist in which the Redeemer Himself is made present to us. As pilgrims in this world, our very thoughts and desires should be on pilgrimage eastwards to the eternal fatherland where the sun of justice never sets, and so we must be shaped and molded by all those mysteries that both bring this kingdom into our midst and also beckon us beyond ourselves and our world into that kingdom, which is “not of this world,” as Our Lord says to Pontius Pilate (Jn 18:36).
Recognizably sacred imagery and elements—for example, a prominent crucifix of the pierced Savior, statues of Saints, many real candles, a dominant and dazzling tabernacle—stress continuity with the apostolic Faith, in this way guarding the unity of the Church and offering an ongoing catechesis of the Faithful. Moreover, there ought to be among Catholics a willingness, even an eagerness, to reintroduce traditional elements that have sometimes been neglected, such as a proper ambo for the proclamation of the Word of God. In ancient and medieval churches, the ambo was often a massive, elevated, highly decorated structure; how readily one could believe that the lector was chanting the very words of God, when his perch was so lofty and sublime! A dignified ambo proclaims the unique dignity of Sacred Scripture even before any word has been uttered: as the saying goes, the ambo speaks for itself, disposing the listeners to reverence the Word proclaimed from it.

More generally, any church should be suffused with, and transmit into the souls of those who abide in it, the three principles of the beautiful: proportion, integrity, clarity.3 Designs should be balanced in their elements and colors, whole in their conception and execution rather than partial or piecemeal, and conveying a clear, unmuffled message—e.g., “we are Roman Catholics: we believe in the saving death of Jesus made present to us in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we believe in the intercession of the Saints”—instead of the vaguely Christian atmosphere of a Protestant church, the neutral emptiness of a civic meeting hall, or the businesslike right angles and beige tones of corporate rooms.

A last guideline might be mentioned: loving attentiveness to detail. Within the limits of the possible, one should not overlook details such as carved or stenciled designs for statuary niches or on the backdrop of a wall-mounted crucifix, patches of appropriate color on or around statuary, Persian-style carpets, handsomely carved chairs and benches. All these things are ways of saying, again without the need for words: “This building is unique; its content is priceless; what goes on here is awe-inspiring and sublime; we are in the court of the Great King.” Our world suffers from a glut of information and, in parallel lines, the culture of the contemporary Church often suffers from an excess of heavy-handed didacticism. What is needed far more is the symbolic language woven of visual beauty, ritual solemnity, silence and traditional music. This language has and will always have a far deeper effect on the souls of worshipers than any amount of explaining could ever do.

Vatican II Strongly Agrees

Judging from what the neo-modernists, aided and abetted by their hierarchical and artistic allies, have managed to do to churches in the name of “implementing the Council,” a traditional Catholic might be forgiven for thinking that the Council was to blame for the invasion of sterility and ugliness into the domain of sacred art. Pope Benedict, in contrast, has been patiently urging us to study the actual teaching of the Council and not to give the benefit of the doubt to “anarchic utopianists” with their tendentious, at times deliberately fallacious interpretations.4 The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) has something extremely relevant and important to tell us about sacred art and what it should be like:
Very rightly the fine arts are considered to number among the noblest activities of man’s talent, especially religious art and the culmination of the same, namely sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, look toward the infinite Divine Beauty which in some way they express by human works; and they achieve their purpose of redounding to God’s praise and glory in proportion as these works have no other aim than turning men’s minds most devoutly to God.

Holy Mother Church has therefore always been the friend of the fine arts and has continually sought their noble service, with the special aim that all things set apart for use in divine worship should be truly worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and symbols of supernatural things, and has trained artists [to the same end]. In fact, the Church has, with good reason, always reserved to herself the right to pass judgment upon the arts, deciding which of the works of artists are congruous with faith, piety, and laws religiously handed down, and thereby fitted for sacred use.

The Church has been particularly sedulous to see that sacred furnishings should worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of worship, [from that vantage] admitting changes in material, form, or ornamentation brought in by the progress of technical arts with the passage of time.5
More surprising still, given the unrelenting war that has been waged against the foregoing principles, we read in the third edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, from 2001, that “sacred buildings and requisites for divine worship should . . . be truly worthy and beautiful and be signs and symbols of heavenly realities” (n. 288).6 For this reason, “the character and beauty of the place and all its furnishings should foster devotion and show forth the holiness of the mysteries celebrated there” (n. 294). This extends to the materials used: “In selecting elements for church appointments, there should be a concern for the genuineness of things [rerum veritas] and a striving for that which will be for the instruction of the Faithful and the dignity of the entire sacred place” (n. 292). It is all about the very purpose of a church: the worship of Almighty God, and the representation to us of the divine realities, revealed truths, transcendent mysteries that this worship is about, or, better said, is totally enmeshed in.

And the Holy Father Strongly Agrees

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist Sacramentum Caritatis (2007), emphatically underlines the connection between beauty and liturgical celebrations in all their aspects, including the architectural space that surrounds them:
The manner of celebrating [the liturgy] should foster a sense of the sacred and the use of outward signs which help to cultivate this sense, such as, for example, the harmony of the rite, the liturgical vestments, the furnishings and the sacred space. … The profound connection between beauty and the liturgy should make us attentive to every work of art placed at the service of the celebration. Certainly an important element of sacred art is church architecture, which should highlight the unity of the furnishings of the sanctuary, such as the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the ambo, and the celebrant’s chair. Here it is important to remember that the purpose of sacred architecture is to offer the Church a fitting space for the celebration of the mysteries of Faith, especially the Eucharist. … Everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty. Special respect and care must also be given to the vestments, the furnishings, and the sacred vessels, so that by their harmonious and orderly arrangement they will foster awe for the mystery of God, manifest the unity of the Faith, and strengthen devotion.7
Holy Mother Church goes so far as to say that the liturgy should be like Heaven on earth. Roman Catholics familiar with the Byzantine Rite, or Eastern Catholics who cherish and practice it as their very own, are blessed with the experience of a liturgical tradition that exhibits with peculiar poignancy, fervor, and artistic beauty this connection between earthly shadows and heavenly realities. Would that most Latin rite Catholics today could have in their own churches, with the Roman Rite, any kind of experience parallel to this! For a sizeable minority the Eastern Divine Liturgy has become a true haven, an escape from now-universal ritual abuses and the banality of unremitting horizontalism. Pope Benedict, as we know from his courageous actions no less than from his lucid words, is a relentless foe of such abuse and banality; he is a constant promoter of that ever-youthful spirit found in all authentic worship, Byzantine or Latin. Consider what he says in the same Apostolic Exhortation:
The beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth. The memorial of Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice contains something of that beauty which Peter, James, and John beheld when the Master, making his way to Jerusalem, was transfigured before their eyes (cf. Mk 9:2). Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour.8
In the same vein the Holy Father remarked in a General Audience last autumn:

What is beauty—which writers, poets, musicians, and artists contemplate and translate into their language—if not the reflection of the splendor of the Eternal Word made flesh? Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord help us to rediscover the way of beauty as one of the ways, perhaps the most attractive and fascinating, to be able to find and love God.9
Entering a church, we should think immediately of our Lord Jesus Christ, of God and of eternity, and of the destiny of our soul. A church must be different from all other spaces: “The Faithful, crossing the threshold of the sacred building, entered a time and space that were different from those of ordinary life,” Pope Benedict says of Europe’s medieval cathedrals. Speaking of a Romanesque monastery church in particular, he observed:
Truly it would not be presumptuous to say that, in a liturgy completely centred on God, we can see, in its rituals and chant, an image of eternity. Otherwise, how could our forefathers, hundreds of years ago, have built a sacred edifice as solemn as this? Here the architecture itself draws all our senses upwards, towards “what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined: what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). In all our efforts on behalf of the liturgy, the determining factor must always be our looking to God.10
The Way of Beauty

In 2006 the Pontifical Council for Culture issued a document entitled The Way of Beauty, Privileged Pathway for Evangelization and Dialogue. As I read the document, I found myself increasingly impressed by its strong, even eloquent statements about the irreplaceable role of beauty in the sacred liturgy and in everything pertaining to it. Having urged that the liturgy must be returned to its true splendor (implying that it has fallen away from it in the less than splendid post-conciliar years), the Pontifical Council goes on to say:
No less important is the promotion of sacred art to accompany aptly the celebration of the mysteries of the Faith, to restore beauty to ecclesiastical buildings and liturgical objects. In this way they will be welcoming, and above all they will be able to convey the authentic meaning of Christian liturgy and encourage the full participation of the Faithful in the divine mysteries.11
It seems charming to me that in this passage the full participation of the Faithful, a notion that in recent decades has been used with all the subtlety of a flagellating whip to enforce all manner of change, is here linked with having spaces and things that are actually worth being around because they are beautiful, because they are suited to mysterious realities, and because they communicate the meaning of what is taking place. Benighted me, I had been led to believe that my heartfelt participation would achieve new heights if only I could be standing in an empty whitewashed church with a block of stone for an altar and some wooden vessels. No distractions from what is essential! Fortunately the Pontifical Council’s document handily shreds this kind of antiseptic minimalism—it even calls for change in line with Catholic Tradition: “The churches must be aesthetically beautiful and well decorated, the liturgies accompanied by beautiful chants and good music, the celebrations dignified and preaching well prepared.” And why? Because these things are “conditions that facilitate the action of the grace of God.”12 Granting that all this is welcome advice based on sound judgment, I do find myself wishing at times that we would begin to see emanating from Rome some legislative measures with teeth, capable of preventing or at least minimizing further “renovations” of traditional churches and the construction of new modernist eyesores.13

A Common Objection[14]

But, someone might say, isn’t all this expenditure of money on the sacred arts wasteful, self-indulgent, irresponsible? Couldn’t we save all this money and disburse it to the poor instead? Or, if such work has already occurred, couldn’t we sell the ornate chairs, the detailed statuary, the gold vessels and silk vestments, the marble, the tapestry or cloth hangings, the candlesticks and crucifix, the pipe organ, and so forth—couldn’t we sell all this and, again, give the proceeds to the poor? Curiously, this objection was first raised not by a parish committee but by an apostate Apostle named Judas Iscariot, and that was probably the initial reason it could never be taken very seriously by the Church.15 But a little reflection would carry us further into the heart of the matter. As Pope John Paul II’s last encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, teaches us:
Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no “extravagance,” devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist. No less than the first disciples charged with preparing the “large upper room,” she has felt the need, down the centuries and in her encounters with different cultures, to celebrate the Eucharist in a setting worthy of so great a mystery.16
It is all a matter of recognizing—and then, what is more difficult, letting our entire worldview, our deepest thoughts and innermost feelings, be totally shaped by—the incomparable importance and immeasurable dignity of what happens in a Catholic church, whether at the baptismal font, or in the confessional, or upon the altar of sacrifice. Once we are possessed of a vivid awareness of what is actually happening there, we know that nothing more wondrous, more life-changing, or more worthy of our greatest love, sacrifice, and attention to detail, could ever happen anywhere else in the world. The church ought to look special because it is special; it ought to look different because it is different, radically different from every other building on this earth. For Catholics who know in faith that Jesus Christ is really, truly, substantially present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, the church is truly, in a way, God’s home on this earth until the end of time. Hence Ecclesia de Eucharistia continues:
With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the Faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated.

These outward forms include a “rich artistic heritage” of “architecture, sculpture, painting, and music.”17
In a circular letter Excellence in Art of April 11, 1971, Pope Paul VI said quite simply: “In commissioning artists and choosing works of art that are to become part of a church, the highest artistic standard is to be set in order that art may aid faith and devotion and be true to the reality it is to symbolize and the purpose it is to serve.” The goal, the overall intention, has to be to give to God, the Greatest and Best, the greatest and best we can possibly give. Obviously one must plan well, with prudence and good sense, in order to achieve this goal correctly, but honoring God with excellence and feeding His people with beauty remains the polestar of the journey. Paul VI even suggested that our modern world, which prides itself on technical prowess, streamlined efficiency, a “scientific” approach to life, has an acute need for the beautiful, for that which is precisely not the latest invention, subject to the strictures of productivity or the analysis of calculation.
This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the heart of man; it is that precious fruit which resists the wear and tear of time, which unites generations and makes them share [the same] things in admiration.18
Echoing these noble sentiments of Paul VI, The Way of Beauty explains:
To offer the men and women of today the true beauty [viz., Christ], to make the Church attentive to always announce, in good times and in bad, the beauty that saves and that is felt in those places where eternity has planted its tent over time, is to offer reasons to live and hope to those who are without it or risk losing it. The Church, witness to the final meaning of life, seed of confidence at the heart of human history, appears already as the people of the beauty that saves, for it anticipates in these last times something of the beauty promised by this God who will bring all things to completion in Him at the end of time. Hope, the militant anticipation of the coming into the saved world promised in the crucified and resurrected Son, is a proclamation of beauty. Of this, the world has a particular need.
Is that not the Gospel truth? In its escalating revolt against order, proportion, harmony, integrity, even nature, the modern world has created for itself an increasingly urgent need, one might well say an emergency need, for Divine Beauty, for everything and anything that can recall it to mind and represent it before our eyes. We need more than ever to be surrounded and penetrated by the beautiful, a healing balm that draws the mind to rest in sinu Patris, in the heart of the Father, the simple source of all beings and of their manifold perfections. Because grace builds on nature, we cannot dismiss the natural, sensible foundations of our interior life. Let our ecclesiastical buildings and all they contain bear eloquent witness to the luminous Truth, merciful Goodness, and ravishing Beauty of our Lord and God, Maker of Heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.+

Image credits:
  1. St. Albertus Catholic Church, Detroit, Michigan; first Polish church in Detroit. Photo by parishioner, courtesy of A.B.
  2. Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Detroit, Michigan; second Polish church in Detroit with a colorful history and magnificent interior. Photo credit:

  1. See Lumen Gentium n. 8. [back]

  2. For the artistic and philosophical underpinnings of much of my argument, see Steven J. Schloeder, Architecture in Communion (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998); Denis McNamara, Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2009). [back]

  3. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas: see Summa theologiae I, q. 5, a. 4, ad 1; q. 39, a. 8, corp. [back]

  4. From Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience of March 10, 2010: “We know, in fact, how after the Second Vatican Council, some were convinced that everything should be new, that there should be another Church, that the pre-conciliar Church was finished and that we would have another, totally ‘other’ Church. An anarchic utopianism!” [back]

  5. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 122. A widely available translation, corrected in light of the original Latin. [back]

  6. This document pertains, of course, to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but it indicates a hermeneutic of continuity rather than one of rupture and discontinuity. [back]

  7. Sacramentum Caritatis, nn. 40–41. [back]

  8. Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 35. [back]

  9. General Audience, November 18, 2009. [back]

  10. Address at Heiligenkreuz, Austria, September 9, 2007. [back]

  11. Unfortunately the document as published on the Vatican website contains no paragraph or section numbers, so more exact citation is not possible. [back]

  12. In context the document seems to qualify this statement by calling them “merely conditions,” but the point is a theological one, and true: “the Faithful need to be educated to pay attention not merely to the aesthetic dimension of the liturgy, however beautiful it may be, but also to understand that the liturgy is a divine act that is not determined by an ambiance, a climate, or even by rubrics, for it is the mystery of faith celebrated in church.” That is, aestheticism would be a vice because what is primary is always faith in the divine action. However, our Faith itself is sustained, nourished, elicited, and instructed by beauty, as the same document describes at length, so there is really no tension here. [back]

  13. Such intervention was called for in an “Appeal to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Return to an Authentically Catholic Sacred Art” (available at, but so far, nothing has come of it. Perhaps something shall; let us pray for that intention. Meanwhile, all over the world, beautiful sanctuaries continue to be wrecked in the name of Vatican II, and new space-alien laboratories continue to be erected, presumably in anticipation of Vatican III’s successful contact with extraterrestrial life. Thanks be to God, such expensive departures from sanity are becoming fewer than they once were, yet one wonders why Rome in all these decades has never lifted a finger to stop the atrocities. To our shame, we are indebted instead to atheistic Ministries of Culture that forbade, in the name of history and artistic patrimony, the jackhammer and the bulldozer. [back]

  14. [Note: this note was excluded in the final "editor's cut," and is retained as a place holder only to avoid breaking the blog automatic footnote sequence.--P.B.] [back]

  15. In John’s Gospel the objection is specifically Judas’s (Jn 12:4–6); in Matthew’s, all the disciples make the complaint (Mt 26:8–9); and in Mark, “some” unspecified persons (Mk 14:4-5). It is also noteworthy that, according to the Synoptics, Judas went out to betray Jesus right after this episode in which Jesus praised the woman for doing an extravagant deed for Him. [back]

  16. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 48. [back]

  17. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 49. [back]

  18. Message to Artists, December 8, 1965. [back]

[Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. The present article, "What Is a Church Supposed to Look Like," was originally published in The Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring 2010), pp. 6-11, and is reprinted here by kind permission of Latin Mass Magazine, 391 E. Virginia Terrace, Santa Paula, CA 93060, and the author.]

[This article is permanently archived at "What is a Catholic church supposed to look like?" (Musings, July 7, 2010).]

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Kreeft on feminism

Marvin Olasky, interviewing Peter Kreeft in "Dangerous Waves" (World magazine, July 17, 2010), asks How do you define feminism?, and Kreeft answers:
The heresy that women and men are not fundamentally different and that women ought to be as much like men as possible, especially as selfish and aggressive as possible. The two most ridiculous errors about men and women are unisexism and male chauvinism. The unisex feminist says that women and men are not different in value, therefore they're not different in nature. The male chauvinist says that men and women are different in nature, therefore they're different in value.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Political rant

Our political correspondent in the nation's capital was supposed to interview the First Lady this morning, but completely flipped out when, on the way to the interview in his limo, he read the following paragraph (originally from Newsweek) -- here linked under Ed Morrissey's title, "The CEO problem" (Hot Air, July 5, 2010).

He introduced the excerpted quote with the following text from his overheated iphone:
Intelligent business people supported Obama because despite their business sense, they have bought into the social ideology he represents. Even if, by all objective accounts his fiscal policy is awful, which ought to give caution about his other policies, they still "like" him.

It is like having a kid who still likes friends who obviously are bad for him or her. There is no getting through to him then. It is an amazing case of self-delusion.
The paragraph in question reads as follows with our Correspondent's commentary in, of course, RED:
Most of the business leaders I spoke to had voted for Barack Obama. They still admire him. Those who had met him thought he was unusually smart. {Why is that comment repeated so unendingly? I cannot think of another politician of whom the phrase is so often repeated? Is there some grounds for the 'unusual,' or is it Emperor's New Clothes?} But all think he is, at his core, anti-business. When I asked for specifics, they pointed to the fact that Obama has no business executives in his Cabinet, that he rarely consults with CEOs (except for photo ops), that he has almost no private-sector experience, that he’s made clear he thinks government and nonprofit work are superior to the private sector. It all added up to a profound sense of distrust.{aaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!}
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Congress in fantasyland

From our undercover agent in Washington, DC -- no, scratch that: this came by Droid Phone from our clandestine agent in Seattle ...
Just when you think absurdity has pretty much reached its limit... "Congress in fantasyland" (InForum Blog by Sheila Liaugminas):
Don’t know why that scene from the Wizard of Oz comes to mind here, but telling Dorothy to click her heels three times and repeat her desire to make it happen isn’t too far-fetched an analogy to what the House did as it went into holiday recess…

They couldn’t pass a budget bill, so they just ‘deemed it as passed’ and, voila, they created themselves a new budget. A non-existent $1.12 trillion budget.
The execution of the “deeming” document allows Democrats to start spending money for Fiscal Year 2011 without the pesky constraints of a budget.

The procedural vote passed 215-210 with no Republicans voting in favor and 38 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote against deeming the faux budget resolution passed.

Never before — since the creation of the Congressional budget process — has the House failed to pass a budget, failed to propose a budget then deemed the non-existent budget as passed as a means to avoid a direct, recorded vote on a budget, but still allow Congress to spend taxpayer money.

House Budget Committee Ranking Member Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) warned this was the green light for Democrats to continue their out-of-control spending virtually unchecked.

“Facing a record deficit and a tidal wave of debt, House Democrats decided it was politically inconvenient to put forward a budget and account for their fiscal recklessness. With no priorities and no restraints, the spending, taxing, and borrowing will continue unchecked for the coming fiscal year,” Ryan said. “The so-called ‘budget enforcement resolution’ enforces no budget, but instead provides a green light for the Appropriators to continue spending, exacerbating our looming fiscal crisis.”
[Hat tip to K.K.]

Politically correct John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that God gave God's only Child, that whoever believes in God's Child should not perish but have eternal life."

[In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, baby. Lord, help us.]

Catholic Free Shipping


Pope on spiritual antithesis among Catholics

[I]n the decades that followed the Second Vatican Council, some have interpreted openness to the world not as a requirement of the missionary zeal of the Heart of Christ, but rather as a passage to secularization.... They were unconsciously caught up in the self-secularization of many ecclesial communities....

Today there is a new generation born into this secularized ecclesial context. Instead of showing openness and consensus, it sees the abyss of differences and opposition to the Magisterium of the Church growing ever wider, especially in the field of ethics. In this desert without God, the new generation feels a deep thirst for transcendence. (emphasis added)

Pope Benedict XVI
Ad Limina address to Bishops of Brazil
September 7, 2009

Monday, July 05, 2010

Crass insights

"Getting What You Want, Wanting What You Get: An Unbiased Study of Feminism" (Fred On Everything, June 29 2010):
I see where women, or college girls anyway, are honking and blowing most fierce about how they don’t like the way sex works nowadays. Yeah. It seems that the hook-up is in flower....

... But then came fem-lib. A torrent of really nasty dykes with politically-significant hairy armpits started yowling about how it wasn’t fair that men could cat around and women couldn’t. Then the Pill shifted the paradigm into high gear....

Which meant—Oh bliss!—that she had little excuse for saying No....
[Hat tip to J.S.]

Update: "Kreeft on feminism" (Musings, July 6, 2010).

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Question For Our Readers

Tridentine Community News (July 4, 2010):
The Church implemented a revised Latin Psalter (text of the Psalms) in 1945. Which Bible translation(s) are appropriate for use for this new Latin text which was in force between 1955-65? The Douay-Rheims does not reflect the meaning of the reworded Latin. What was the authoritative source of the English text?

There was – and will be shortly once again – a version of the Extraordinary Form Breviary with both Latin and English. It was published circa 1964; copies today are extremely scarce. Whatever English translation was used in this edition likely answers this question.

If any of our readers are aware of the answer to this question, please e-mail the address at the bottom of this page.

NPM Convention
Immediately preceding the July 16-18 Latin Liturgy Association Convention, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians will hold its Annual Convention, July 12-16, also here in Detroit. Based at Cobo Hall, the NPM Convention is the primary gathering of parish music ministers in North America. Points across the Catholic liturgical spectrum, from the modern to the traditional, are given attention. Those of our readers who are interested in musical topics outside of the Latin Mass world may wish to take a look at the NPM Convention schedule at and are invited to register for the conference.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for July 4, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Reasons of the heart: the obstinacy of belief and unbelief

In answer to the question, "What if there is so much liberal scholarship simply because it is right?" a reader sent me a link to this article by S. M. Hutchens, "The Durability of the Gift" (Touchstone, July 2, 2010), who begins his article with a quote from Lutheran theologian, Carl Braaten:
The so-called new hermeneutic of Ebeling and Fuchs was a synthesis of recent historical-critical studies of the Bible, the theology of Rudolf Bultmann, and the history of modern hermeneutical reflections, from Schleiermacher to Wilhelm Dilthey, and Martin Heidegger. This new trend was being heralded as a lively new option that overcame the hiatus between the Barthian and Bultmannian schools of theology. I saw it as an inferior alternative to that of Wolfhart Pannenberg, so I gave an address at the American Theological Society in Chicago entitled, “How New is the New Hermeneutic?” I started out by saying that more important than whether the approach of Ebeling and Fuchs is new is whether it is true. Publishers are looking for a profit so they need to market their goods to people with “itching ears,” for whom relevance to the new is more preferable than faithfulness to the old. In fact, in my view the theologies that turn out to be the most relevant are those that intentionally eschew novelty in favor of renewing the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3b).
--Carl E. Braaten, Because of Christ: Memoirs of a Lutheran Pastor-Theologian. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010, p. 61.
Hutchens writes:
... The conclusion I am reaching is something like this: belief in the truth of the gospel creates in the mind a pre-existing interpretational matrix from which one cannot depart without conscious (conscious, that is, until the mind is intentionally dulled and fogged) knowledge that a departure has taken place, a knowledge that creates an intolerable burden on the conscience until it is “dealt with” in some way. This exculpatory dealing is known to be a sin, in fact, a departure from the faith with all that entails with regard to the apostasy of one’s own soul. For many, the deal is made, the pottage purchased, ambiguity substituted for faith, and the call of the fallen teacher goes out for his Master’s debtors, who accordingly buy their own damnation in his reduction of their accounts.

For others, the conscience cannot bear this, and they reject the temptation for the “faith once for all delivered” which they heard at their Mother’s knee....

The effect of the fundamental gospel’s matrix upon preaching and teaching is seen in evidence of belief that all must depend on a narrative that follows its pattern from ground-principles forward. The preacher may not believe everything that is in the Bible; he may have severe difficulties with certain traditional interpretations. But, believing the maternal creed, there are large tracts of it he believes to be true as surely and profoundly as he hopes for salvation. It is from those places he begins his narrative and attempts to develop it along lines that are true to the gospel, bringing in, as he begins to understand them and connect them to this line of thought, other passages of scripture he may once not have been able to believe, or which traditional interpretations made unpalatable, but now whose part in the whole he is beginning to understand--the whole of which is becoming more evident not as the restrictive canon it once appeared, but the appointed way forward into the unimaginable--the Narrow Way (shall we recognize it as the birth-canal?) of which the Lord spoke.
[Hat tip to J.M.]